Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Space Traffic Control gets stronger

Minotaur rocket blasts off.

The Saturday night sky above Vandenberg Air Force Base in California lit up as the Minotaur rocket successfully delivered the Space Based Space Surveillance Pathfinder satellite into orbit. This was a successful flight for two reasons.

First is that the Minotaur 4 rocket has made its first successful launch of a satellite into orbit. Made by Orbital Sciences Corporation, the Minotaur 4 is uses SRMs (solid rocket motors) from Peacekeeper ICBMs which have been retired. There is your literal "beat swords into plowshares" example.

Second is that the SBSS Pathfinder satellite is designed to help track the thousands of pieces of debris and satellites that orbit the Earth. This helps the US Space Surveillance Network analyze potential object collisions during missions in space.

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